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Outdoor activities instructor

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Outdoor activities instructors lead trips and teach skills in activities like hill walking, climbing, canoeing, skiing and snowboarding.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £12,000 to £30,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need to be at least 18 (21 to drive a minibus), and you’ll usually need:

  • a skill in at least one outdoor activity
  • coaching or instructor qualifications approved by the relevant national governing body (NGB) for each of your sports or activities
  • a first aid certificate
  • a life-saving certificate if you instruct water-based activities

It may also help if you’ve been involved in activities, like:

  • Duke of Edinburgh awards
  • membership of activity clubs
  • volunteering at outdoor activities centres
  • youth work, teaching, sports coaching or training
  • physical training instruction in the armed forces

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

You’ll also need an enhanced background check which your employer will arrange for you.

The Institute for Outdoor Learning  and Skills Active have more information on becoming an outdoor activities instructor.

2. Skills required

You’ll need to be able to:

  • lead and manage groups of people
  • give clear instructions and explanations
  • inspire confidence and give encouragement
  • remain calm in difficult or dangerous situations
  • deal with challenging behaviour

3. What you'll do

You'll provide

  • activities to help people enjoy their leisure time
  • team-building training exercises for workplaces
  • activity courses for disadvantaged young people

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • planning and preparing activities
  • explaining, advising on and demonstrating activities
  • instructing in specialist areas, like sailing or climbing
  • making sure all equipment and facilities are safe
  • explaining safety procedures

Checking weather conditions, assessing hazards and managing risks.

You may also have to deal with accidents, and support people who may be nervous about taking part in activities.

4. Salary

Starter: £12,000

Experienced: £18,000

Highly Experienced: £30,000 (senior instructor, expedition leader or manager)

Accommodation and food may be provided.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work long, irregular hours, including evenings, weekends and public holidays. 

The work is physically demanding, and involves being outside in all weather conditions, often in remote areas. 

You’ll work in open countryside, rugged terrain and urban activity centres like dry ski slopes, indoor climbing walls and canals.

Courses and expeditions will often involve staying away from home, sometimes camping.

6. Career path and progression

You could work on contract, or do freelance work.

With experience, you could progress to centre management, or set up your own activity centre.

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Last updated: 13 September 2018